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"We Can Glimpse the Universe Before the Big Bang": One of World's Leading Physicists

The circular patterns within the cosmic microwave background suggest that space and time did not come into being at the Big Bang but that our universe in fact continually cycles through a series of "aeons," according to University of Oxford theoretical physicist Roger Penrose, who says that data collected by NASA's WMAP satellite supports his idea of "conformal cyclic cosmology".

Penrose's finding runs directly counter to the widely accepted inflationary model of cosmology which states that the universe started from a point of infinite density known as the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, expanded extremely rapidly for a fraction of a second and has continued to expand much more slowly ever since, during which time stars, planets and ultimately humans have emerged. That expansion is now believed to be accelerating due to a scientific X factor called dark energy and is expected to result in a cold, uniform, featureless universe.

Penrose, however, says Physics World, takes issue with the inflationary picture "and in particular believes it cannot account for the very low entropy state in which the universe was believed to have been born – an extremely high degree of order that made complex matter possible. He does not believe that space and time came into existence at the moment of the Big Bang but that the Big Bang was in fact just one in a series of many, with each big bang marking the start of a new "aeon" in the history of the universe."

The core concept in Penrose's theory is the idea that in the very distant future the universe will in one sense become very similar to how it was at the Big Bang. Penrose says that "at these points the shape, or geometry, of the universe was and will be very smooth, in contrast to its current very jagged form. This continuity of shape, he maintains, will allow a transition from the end of the current aeon, when the universe will have expanded to become infinitely large, to the start of the next, when it once again becomes infinitesimally small and explodes outwards from the next big bang. Crucially, he says, the entropy at this transition stage will be extremely low, because black holes, which destroy all information that they suck in, evaporate as the universe expands and in so doing remove entropy from the universe."

The foundation for Penrose's theory is found in the cosmic microwave background, the all-pervasive microwave radiation that was believed to have been created when the universe was just 300,000 years old and which tells us what conditions were like at that time.

The evidence was obtained by Vahe Gurzadyan of the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia, who analysed seven years' worth of microwave data from WMAP, as well as data from the BOOMERanG balloon experiment in Antarctica. Penrose and Gurzadyan say they have clearly identified concentric circles within the data – regions in the microwave sky in which the range of the radiation's temperature is markedly smaller than elsewhere.

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation is the remnant heat from the Big Bang. This radiation pervades the universe and, if we could see in microwaves, it would appear as a nearly uniform glow across the entire sky. However, when we measure this radiation very carefully we can discern extremely faint variations in the brightness from point to point across the sky, called "anisotropy". These variations encode a great deal of information about the properties of our universe, such as its age and content. The "Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe" (WMAP) mission has measured these variations and found that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and it consists of 4.6% atoms, 23% dark matter, and 72% dark energy.

According to Penrose and Gurzadyan, as described in arXiv: 1011.3706, these circles allow us to "see through" the Big Bang into the aeon that would have existed beforehand. They are the visible signature left in our aeon by the spherical ripples of gravitational waves that were generated when black holes collided in the previous aeon.

The "Penrose circles" pose a huge challenge to inflationary theory because this theory says that the distribution of temperature variations across the sky should be Gaussian, or random, rather than having discernable structures within it.

Julian Barbour, a visiting professor of physics at the University of Oxford in an interview with Physics World, says that these circles would be "remarkable if real and sensational if they confirm Penrose's theory". They would "overthrow the standard inflationary picture", which, he adds, has become widely accepted as scientific fact by many cosmologists. But he believes that the result will be "very controversial" and that other researchers will look at the data very critically. He says there are many disputable aspects to the theory, including the abrupt shift of scale between aeons and the assumption, central to the theory, that all particles will become massless in the very distant future. He points out, for example, that there is no evidence that electrons decay.

The image at top of the page shows the CMB fluctuations from the 5-year WMAP survey. The average brightness corresponds to a temperature of 2.725 Kelvins (degrees above absolute zero; equivalent to -270 C or -455 F). The colors represent temperature variations, as in a weather map: red regions are warmer and blue regions are colder than average by 0.0002 degrees. This map was formed from the five frequency bands shown below in such a way as to suppress the signal from our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Casey Kazan via Physics World and arXiv: 1011.3706.


And so once again, in yet another way, the current understanding about the time and manner of the universe's creation is brought into doubt.

We will probably not have this figured out before the Singularity, and once we do the truth will probably turn out to be something that, today, most of us would ridicule.

Hey, Daily Galaxy, I think you really need MORE adds and you need LOUDER music and sound advertisements. This is why I ready The Daily Galaxy: I LOVE being bombarded by ads and ESPECIALLY by commercials now. Wow. This is what our culture has become: it's all about MONEY.

to me the universe looks and acts like a big galaxy, why do we accept that the last layer is the universe, the universe could just as well be a "galaxy" in another, much larger structure.

the implications of the penrose circles are startling...harkens back to the early days of the oscillating or cyclical theories of people like hoyle...oft ridiculed, but now showing merit?

The Big Bang is the universe's earliest known event. What powered the Big Bang...and what came before it? Answer of the question: At the time of beginning of the creation a part of the power of the nature became divisible as a result of the big bang. That is to say; Nature came before it and reflected power of the nature is the result of big bang.

Dr.Cook, you should really look into adding an adblock extension to your browser.

Penrose's circles sound a little like Schiaparelli's smooth, consistent Mars canals. Something's there, but it/they will become clearer, more complex, and probably something entirely different than first suspected, as we are able to see/measure them with more detail. Then a new theory will emerge.

Love this something entropying into nothing until, bonk, something.

they don't exactly match

The Hindus first formulated this concept ages ago. Time and space (Brahma's Day) is born and reborn.


Aeons-Being Continuum` or Being-Becoming Continuum` defines all of creation ; Cosmos.
Aeons unto eternality, Being of IS'NESS i.e. BEINGNESS IS GOD.

TIME` is Character of Beingness...
SPACE is Personality of Beingness...
STAR & STELLAR is cellular system of Beingness.
PHOTONIC & FUNDAMENTAL FORCES is spirit of Soul for Beingness.
COSMIC, STELLAR & ASTRAL FLUID is consciousness of Beingness.
The ontological Unit that Formats all of Beingness is TITHONS`

Ontological study of microcosm unto infinitude is equivalent to cosmological study of macrocosm.
In an exquisite words of scripture is discreetly said " He who knows one, he knows all"

May it be entropy unto anti-entropy, time and space or being unto becoming any and everything that may define the ontology of Cosmos will be discernibly deciphered as the para`element of propagation ; the source behind all of creation. And this para`element is extrapolated today to be latterly named as Tithons`

Tithons` is a para`being ; para`element of thermal-valuity, a cosmic unit of energy propagating source of all energies into being of Star & Stellar, quadrimorphic photons unto fundamental forces due to what our existence since aeons to date unto eternality belongs to. A journey from 'aster' to 'disaster' is nothing but a product of Tithons.

astral` scienstist : gnosiologist

My idea of reality goes like this: dark energy and dark matter are actually vacuum energy and gravity energy in their primal form. Furthermore, vacuum energy and gravity energy are two sides of the same coin similar to the electromagnetic relationship.

Both energies express a pulling effect. Vacuum energy pulls outward while gravity energy pulls inward.

There are conditions where vacuum energy will actually pull inward. Take a strong glass ball enclosing a vacuum. The energy vectors would be inward toward the center of the glass ball. This could be seen as the pull of gravity.

Now, take a small ball container with just enough compressed gas to fill the larger glass ball and place at the center of the large glass ball. Then, break the small gas container and the vacuum energy will pull out the gas until it is equally distributed. Once the gas has been distributed the vacuum pull toward the center of the large glass ball will be canceled out.

The vacuum energy is canceled out by the gravity energy present in the mass of the gas filling the glass ball.

The same thing is occurring in the universe. As the vacuum energy out there in the distant spaces of the universe pulls the mass of the universe further and further apart the inward pull of gravity becomes weaker allowing the expansion of the universe to speed up.

At some point the mass will be so dispersed that atoms will split apart releasing gravity energy to the fullest. Eventually even black holes will be pulled apart. When the separation of mass and gravity energy is complete there will be equilibrium throughout the universe similar to the glass ball example.

One would think that this equilibrium would be the death of the universe. However, at the quantum level there is a constant fluctuation between the vacuum and gravity states. Eventually a quantum shift will occur that results in a large shift in favor of gravity. Once a new gravitational shift has occurred a space time inversion will occur resulting in a new “big bang” and a new universe.

This inversion of space will through the balance between vacuum and gravity so out of whack that the initial outward pull of the vacuum energy will be close to infinity resulting in hyper inflation. This hyper inflation will slow down over time as gravity attempts to pull back toward the point of the quantum shift.

However, as gravity begins to gain control at some critical point of expansion, the momentum of the initial hyper inflation will disburse the gravity energy past the critical point and vacuum energy will begin taking control of the expansion. Eventually vacuum energy and gravity energy will cancel out waiting for the next quantum flux to start it all over again.

I love and am used to keeping a distance with those changed things.Only in this way can I know what will not be abandoned by time. Forexample, when you love someone, changes are all around. Then I stepbackward and watching it silently, then I see the true feelings.


It is very satisfying and refreshing once in a while to read of some alternative and thoroughly considered thoughts about Cosmos. Well done Roger Penrose and Team!
- I´m quite sure these thoughts mostly are on the very right cosmological track. Though, I don´t agree on “several big bangs”, but more on a kind of “Cyclic String Theory” where galaxies are created and located in major swirling macrocosmic electromagnetic filaments.
- It is said that “the universe is expanding” and even accelerating. Of course we only can talk of the local part of the Universe, but such a scenario would fit very well to the “Cyclic String Theory” with a local universal movement that can be situated in both an expanding and even accelerating stage in a whirling and cyclic major cosmic electromagnetic field of filaments.
- Everything in cosmos is constantly swirling and rotating and it is excellent to find that the Cosmic Microwave Background apparently also shows up such a universal swirling/cyclic pattern.
- The idea of having more “Big Bang´s and eons” of course excludes the very theory of the general BB and the “age of the Universe”. Maybe this could give some renaissance to the thoughts of Fred Hoyle and his Steady State Theory that unfortunately was hijacked by theoretical and speculative mathematicians that didn’t have the overall cosmological view and who even violated the very basics of calculation inserting all kind of nonexistent “mathematic elements”.
- Maybe the Western Cosmology once again can get back to a real scientifically track using genuine math and natural logics again instead of pure mathematical singularity speculations.

Read also Roger Penrose: The Confornal Cyclic Cosmology:

For those who want to read more of alternative cosmological thoughts, check out these links to Magnetic Strings/Filaments/Currents and Cosmic Formation in Cosmos.

Anyone may explain what the Universe may be?

From the Vedas:

With his outward breath Vishnu scattered clouds of tiny bubbles into the waters, and every time he breathed in they were sucked back inside him. Each of these bubbles, which seemed so small in comparison with his gigantic sleeping form, grew into an entire universe like ours, whose lifespan was equal to a single breath of Vishnu. All these universes were clustered around the form of Vishnu like foam in the ocean.

David: That's pretty well thought out. You may be on to something there. If nothing else, some aspect of it will probably turn out to be incorporated in the final solution. :-]

As A.Muse stated before, this idea is firmly rooted in the Puranic Literature of Hinduism. I was startled when I read the first paragraph of this article as I was well-versed in core Hindu philosophies.

"The later Puranic view asserts that the Universe is created, destroyed, and re-created in an eternally repetitive series of cycles. In Hindu cosmology, a universe endures for about 4,320,000 years—one day/Kalpa of Brahma, the creator) and is then destroyed by fire or water elements. At this point, Brahma rests for one night, just as long as the day. This process, named Pralaya (Cataclysm), repeats for 100 Brahma years (311 trillion, 40 billion human years) that represents Brahma's lifespan.
We are currently believed[citation needed] to be in the 51st year of the present Brahma's life and so about 158.7 trillion years have elapsed since the birth of Brahma.
Both the Rig Veda and Brahmanda Purana describe a universe that is cyclical or oscillating and infinite in time. The universe is described as a cosmic egg that cycles between expansion and total collapse. It expanded from a concentrated form — a point called a Bindu. The universe, as a living entity, is bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth."
(Source: Wikipedia on Hindu Cosmology)

Marvellous, isn't it? I end with the famous Rig-Vedic conclusion to the question on the origins of the universe:

"He whose eyes govern Creation from the highest of Heavens,
Verily He knows it all, or maybe even He does not know..."
RV X.129

Crea, We're trying to put an end to the audio ads. We use three of the nation's top ad networks, and one of them, we don't know which, is running the audio ads.
They are abusive and awful. We'll find the culprit asap!
With our apologies...Casey Kazan, editor

I have been a long time reader, and an avid fan of the Daily Galaxy. I have always really loved this site and its articles. I have visited multiple times a day for close to 5 years, and understand that it must be quite a bit of work to come up with this many articles every day. The ads have never bothered me, and being a graphic designer I realize they are absolutely necessary. But please draw the line at the audio. I control the soundtrack in my office, and the audio ads will keep me from visiting this site in the future. It's embarrassing to suddenly crank out a commercial during Dark Side of the Moon. So please, please, please, no more audio ads if you want to keep this reader. -thanks

We are currently believed to be in the rear end of a mule on a 100 Trillion year voyage across a grassy marsh to visit the thorn birds in Mesopotamia. Should he fart along the way everything in existence will simply cease to exist.
(Source: Wikipedia on Hindu Cosmology)
How does this differ from Brahma and his ridiculous dream ? If everything is an illusion as Hindu cosmology states then why even bother ? What happens if he wakes up before you make it through your life cycles to nirvana. And if you wake up to reality then where are you then ? Doesn't that pose a whole lot of new problems ? There is too much fairy tale bull in Hindu Cosmology. You better watch out, the next ant you step on might be a relative who went down the wrong path in his rebirth cycles.

Observer: Your "observation" was completely uncalled for here.

Besides being unnecessarily mean, it's foolish. To ignore the correlations between scientific discoveries and religious traditions is to dismiss a source of potential information and wisdom. I know that you and several other regulars on this site have nothing but snotty, belligerent things to say about religious traditions, or any other religious thought other than atheism, but you would be better to keep that to yourself.

If you choose to dismiss the philosophies and beliefs of old, that's your loss, but don't ridicule those who prefer to take a holistic perspective on reality.

What, does this mean that if the Universe just cycles over and over that I'll have to read all of this again...?

What, does this mean that if the Universe just cycles over and over that I'll have to read all of this again...?

Posted by: Kallex Wolf | November 27, 2010 at 01:58 PM

What, does this mean that if the Universe just cycles over and over that I'll have to read all of this again...?

Posted by: Kallex Wolf | November 27, 2010 at 01:58 PM

what does this mean that if the universe cycles over again ill just have to read this all over again?

Ummm let me get this straight Bob Greenwade. Which part of your "holistic perspective of reality" entails everything being the dream of a God ? I was under the impression that this is a science blog and not a comic book blog.

It is better to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain.
- Notebook; More Maxims of Mark, Merle Johnson, 1927

Observer: It doesn't entail that at all. In fact, I don't at all believe a bit of what Sahon posted. But I do respect his perspective, and his observation that this scientific theory has a parallel in Hinduism. I read through what he said, and I do find it very interesting that, once again, an ancient culture told a story with strong parallels in modern science.

And certainly just because I disagree with him doesn't give me any pathological urge to compare his beliefs to a mule fart.

Seems like an old idea rehashed with new language. Brahim is a fantastic meat, lightly seasoned and cooked fast to seal the juices, its about as good as red meat gets. Dont really know how they create anything apart from methane gas and a good BBQ, but thats just my western ignorance i guess.
(P.S. if the universe constantly cycles, does that mean its enviromentally freindly or is it just a poncy lycra wearing rule ignoring lunatic who demands full use of the road for ZERO contribution in the way of registration and insurance?)

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